The Football Ramble
Est 2007 - the most entertaining voice in football

The best kept secret in football

We’re not all sexist, racist, homophobic hooligans wearing our lack of education and devotion to cheap lager as a badge of honour.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that many of us are generous, kind, intelligent and we go to games to enjoy ourselves. For many of us, our clubs are communities and if we can help someone, or fulfil a dream, we will move heaven and earth to do it.

Like these Sheffield Wednesday fans, who responded to an online shoutout from Chris Eales that his terminally-ill father Jonny would be attending the game vs. Charlton on Monday, by singing the big man a song.

eales

Lovely bit of work, you Owls.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via owlstalk. H/T 101greatgoals.

Sheffield Wednesday

Champions League: The Method

Having spent most of his career performing in a series of roles he cast himself, Jose Mourinho found himself in something of a quandary last night.

‘The Special One’ would be a bit of a stretch given Chelsea’s recent form and the debris he reportedly left behind him in the Real Madrid dressing room, ‘the Humble One’ a touch inappropriate for a Champions League semi-finalist and ‘The Mentalist’ totally inadvisable when up against Diego Pablo Simeone - a man so hard, he can wear a hipster undercut at the age of forty-three and be totally confident no one will take the piss.

 

As it was, Jose ended up looking a bit lost. He strolled the touchline nonchalantly, hands in pockets, occasionally wandering out of his technical area and onto the edge of the pitch in a vaguely threatening manner but mostly dropping to his haunches and peering into the dugout as though he had a fondue on the go.

Fortunately, his team were more focussed and while all the pre-match attention had been on the notoriously miserly Atletico defence, it was the central partnership of John Terry & Gary Cahill that impressed, reducing Diego Costa to a bit part role and limiting the impact of the more lively Raul Garcia.

 

That’s not to say that Chelsea’s forward line was any better. The Gods of Football temporarily vacated Anfield for a minibreak at the Vicente Calderón, where they amused themselves by taunting Fernando Torres with the prospect of an heroic performance in front of his hometown crowd, then ensuring he spent most of the game on his back.

Given the ‘difficulties’ surrounding Thibaut Courtois’ inclusion in the Atletico side, some might say Petr Cech’s injury, which reportedly puts him out for the rest of the season was ironic too, although that depends on your perspective.

ramos

Don’t be too quick to laugh though, neutrals. Remember a few weeks ago when I hilariously touted the possibility that Mou had a planned all this, that Chelsea would get through the semis, face Real Madrid in the final and win on penalties, humiliating Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas terribly in the process? Well, it appears I missed one vital element of this fantasy scenario - namely John Terry not playing in the final and then bravely appearing with the trophy in his kit and shinnies.

The Gods didn’t though, did they?

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By Kelly Welles

 

Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Champions League, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, Diego Simeone

Lineker’s Barred

lineker

Bets were being wagered across the Football Ramble social networks this morning as to how long it would take esteemed presenter Marcus C. Speller to mention a certain balding smoothie in conjunction with the recent vacation of a high profile managerial post on tonight’s pod. The estimates varied wildly, some of you demonstrating a quite staggering lack of faith (less than a minute) while others appeared to be working on the assumption that the boys would take measures to silence him (20mins 42secs).

In all, it was just a bit of bants. Until Lineker weighed in with the above tweet.

What you’ve done, Gary, is given official sporting endorsement to a man who genuinely believes that Darius Vassell should still have a starting berth in the England set-up.

You’re ruined for us now. We’re taking off our tribute bandages and everything.

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By Kelly Welles

Manchester United, David Moyes, Gary Lineker

David Moyes: Have you seen this man?

moyes

Last seen leaving Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester on foot, at speed, having just been refused a second season.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T @Bownox83.

Manchester United, David Moyes

Midweek Results: A boy named Bale

 

He killed Barcelona.

They were already stunned - injuries and formation changes having dulled the tiki-taka sharpness, off-field pressures adding stress to otherwise straightforward squad augmentation - but he wasn’t swayed by their sudden vulnerability.

With the same speed and precision that left many a Premier League defence on its knees, Gareth Bale last night slit open the all-conquering Catalans and left them gasping for breath on their backs, their once impenetrable armour pierced by a pointing finger, a knock-on, a brief detour into the technical area and a turn of pace that left the not exactly slow out of the traps Marc Bartra in a befuddled heap.

Bet Cristiano’s chuffed.

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Gus Poyet. A bit batty?

Back in auld Blighty, The Engineer’s plans for an inaugural title win suffered an unpleasant staining courtesy of an increasingly unstable Sunderland. No one was more surprised by the Connor Wickham-inspired 2-2 draw at the Etihad than Gus Poyet, who later claimed that football was trying to kill him.

Someone should check his office. It’s very possible Paulo Di Canio left some sort of madness diffuser in a light fitting and is sat in a dormant volcano hideaway somewhere in the Pacific, stroking a cat and laughing uncontrollably. 

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Tony Pulis and his informal cap.

Liverpool fans had their misty third eye squeegeed clean last night, as Crystal Palace categorically stated their unwillingness to doff their cap to the Scouse fairytale. Everton’s ambitions of finishing fourth and qualifying Champions League football next season undoubtedly form part of an unlikely and unifying double for the city, but a 2-3 defeat simultaneously handed Arsenal the initiative and the Reds an answer to the question, will Pulis’s men ease off now they’re safe?

This is almost certainly the first and last time that Tony Pulis and Jose Mourinho share a common purpose. Enjoy it.

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By Kelly Welles

Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Everton, Manchester City, Sunderland, Crystal Palace

FIFA: Making grown men cry. Again

alex

Only FIFA would be complacent enough to imagine that gluing a bit of discarded dire wolf hair to Zico’s top lip would prevent one of his biggest fans from identifying him.

Still, inviting a Brazil 2014 volunteer to the Maracanã and having Zico present him with his uniform is a nice touch.

If they weren’t such a stand-up bunch of fellas, we’d think they were trying to distract us from something...

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via facebook.

FIFA, Brazil 2014

Copa del Rey Final Trailer: Bywater-esque

 
To a soundtrack evocative of the parps and farts that a cyber goth band might emit as they get to grips with their Korg squelch function, Gareth Bale and Dani Alves strap their boots on and smash footballs at liveried bags of paint someone happened to conveniently leave in a warehouse.

This is almost Bywater-ian in it’s abstraction and execution, no?

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By Kelly Welles

Gareth Bale, Dani Alves, Copa del Rey

Icardi vs. Lopez: Notes on a Scandal

shake

Football is in a rare vein of form right now. There’s an exciting title run-in, managerial meltdowns are occurring in the most unusual places and perhaps most importantly, we’re not being forced to suffer the indignity of our media being more interested in its representatives’ sex organs being in or around people other than their official partners.

Over in Italy, where emotion runs free to the point that grown men hide in hedges dressed in commando gear to spy on their upcoming opponent’s tactics, they cannot say the same.

tariga
Mauro Icardi, Wanda Nara & Maxi Lopez in ‘happier’ times.

Calcio experienced its own version of Handshake-gate on Sunday when Sampdoria faced Inter in a game that, due to a series of ill-advised and in some cases, quite tasteless, social media messages, became known via the press as the “Wanda Derby.”

icardi

The Ramble has been stretching the parameters of what can be called a derby for some years now, but as far as I’m aware, a game on English soil has never been fiercely contested because one guy nurtured another through his formative years at a club and was repaid by The Protégé getting involved with his ex and flaunting it by posting photos of himself with Betrayed Hubby’s kids on Twitter.

Not unreasonably, when the time came for Sampdoria’s Maxi Lopez to “show respect” to 21-year-old Mauro Icardi in football’s universally imposed manner, he declined, but the humiliation wasn’t to end there. Icardi, whose dignified behaviour was almost certainly one of the factors that drew Lopez’ former wife Wanda Nara into his sphere of influence, scored, then proceeded to cup his ear in front of the Sampdoria Ultras. He was booked, but although technically correct, it’s probably not the retribution Lopez was hoping for, especially since he had a penalty saved during the game. Sampdoria lost 4-0.

If you want all the juice, Paulo Bandini has written a gloriously detailed account for the Guardian. If you’re not interested in what footballers get up to off the pitch I would first ask you why you’re still reading this, and secondly to be grateful for small mercies.

In a World Cup year, this is the kind of disruptive crap we English usually have to deal with. It looks like Italy and Argentina are taking the hit for us this time.

If we win, let’s say we call it quits on the old Hand of God thing, yeah?

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By Kelly Welles

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Images: taringa, twitter,

Inter, Sampdoria, Calcio

Andrea Pirlo: Say what?!

pirlo

This is a photo of an extract from Andrea Pirlo’s autobiography, released today.

In one short paragraph, he manages to insult the French, relate his position as he prepared to take his penalty in the World Cup final to that of the everyday Italian businessman and a prostitute and assert his national pride.

Oh, and render the argument that English footballers don’t need to be articulate because they’re good at football completely and utterly redundant.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via Twitter.

Juventus, Andrea Pirlo

Weekend Highlights: It’s been emotional

gerrard

They didn’t exactly hurdle it with aplomb, but as Liverpool battered their way through the barrier to their title winning aspirations that was a similarly driven Manchester City side, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel the romance of it all.

silva

Of course, this is England, and while many neutrals allowed themselves to succumb to a captain’s tears and the notion of a trophy being a fitting tribute to ninety-six people who never lived to see the fallow years, a few find a strange pleasure in being seen to drop their trousers and piss all over the bonfire.

Some were fun; Sky’s attempt to be the first broadcaster to have an interviewer punched in the face by an athlete in a post-match interview being thwarted by Steven Gerrard’s professionalism being one, but others, like those people who left tyre marks in their haste to share their disdain for the team and captain across their social networks were genuinely baffling.

silence

Hate Liverpool if you want. It’s a free country and fierce rivalries are a big part of what makes our game what it is. But another part of rivalry is respect and if you can’t even bring yourself to keep your mouth shut when events conspire towards one of those otherworldly moments of magic that drew us to football in the first place, you should probably find better things to do with your Saturday afternoons. Hanging round shopping arcades telling three-year-olds that Santa is a capitalist construction designed specifically to elicit money from hard-working parents, for example.

It’s worth it just to see their faces crumble, yo.

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daniels

And while we’re on the subject of magic, the FA Cup has misplaced its quota and the hunt is on to recapture it.

Heading up the search party is BBC 606, who recently charged their merry band of listeners with the task of locating said magic, with the promise that the best leads would be presented to FA Chairman Greg Dyke.

meyler

Everyone was having a brilliant time until Greg turned up and pointed out that while offering a Champions League spot to the winner of the trophy was the best way to make the competition more exciting, the FA is not in charge of world, or indeed, European football and can’t make those decisions. He even went as far as to claim that other countries have cup competitions, a rumour that we have been unable to confirm at the time of writing.

fab

Luckily Darren Fletcher was on hand to advise him that even if they do, they’re definitely not as good as the FA Cup. As of today, “The Magic” remains at large and should not be approached.

It may well be armed.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images: footballtube, facebook.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Steven Gerrard, BBC 606

Joseph Minala: We really should have seen this coming

2

You remember in February when Lazio were forced to dispute allegations that their seventeen-year-old Cameroonian midfielder Joseph Minala was actually forty-one?

The glorious moment when his agent dismissed claims that he looked significantly older by stating “Joseph had a difficult childhood, that’s the issue.”?

lazio

We should have known then that the story wouldn’t end there. We should have thought about how whacked out the world of football is, checked the schedules and slammed a stack of money on Lazio winning the Italian Youth Cup (Coppa Italia Primavera) with Minala to score.

 
Because they have, and he did, goddammit.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images: facebook, corrieredellosport.

Joseph Minala

UEFA Champions League: A brief moment of clarity

thibault

Amidst speculation that Thibaut Courtois will be ineligible to play against his parent club in their Champions League semi-final, UEFA have taken the surprisingly decisive step of issuing a statement of integrity.

Courtois, who has played a big old part in Atletico Madrid’s ridiculously successful season, was rumoured to be subject to a clause in the loan contract between Atleti and Chelsea that would have prevented him from playing against the Blues, unless a substantial fee was paid by the Spanish club.

According to UEFA’s statement, issued this morning, any “such provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.

If you think this sounds a bit efficient for a football governing body, don’t panic. According to Sid Lowe, UEFA stated yesterday that “rules do not say anything about loans and that therefore any agreement Chelsea-Atletico would stand.”

The semi-finals, Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich will be played on 22/23 April and 29/30 April. God knows what’ll happen between then and now.

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By Kelly Welles

Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Champions League, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois

Spurs: They’ve done what now?

spurs

To Spurs It Up: to take an already unfortunate and/or embarrassing situation and inadvertently, without malice aforethought, make it three hundred times worse.

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By Kelly Welles

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Lovely spot by @CharlieTimms!

Tottenham Hotspur

The Chaaaarrrrmpions. League.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United (agg 4-2)

ed
Ed Woodward. Haunting.

These days, is it realistic to assume that any top, top footballer would choose to go to a club who have not qualified for Champions League football? David Moyes seems to think so, but having watched his side crash out of the competition last night, and with little prospect of qualification via the Prem, it’s a theory that’s going to be tested over the summer and we can’t wait. With the catastrophe that was last summer’s transfer window at the forefront of their minds, United seem to be keen to avoid last minute deals (known in football circles as the ‘Fellaini’) and reportedly left Vice Chairman Ed Woodward in Munich last night to sell the move to Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos.

You can see their reasoning. That, people, is one persuasive face, particularly if it’s pressed against the outside of your hotel window while you try to sleep.

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Chelsea 2-0 Paris St Germain (agg 3-3, Chelsea through on away goals)

 
Thank god we can rely on Chelsea. Aside from the sporadic outbreaks of manlove, the manager haring up the touchline like a lunatic and a 6ft 4in man beast creeping up behind him during a post-match interview to give him a cuddle, the Blues were totally calm and professional in overturning of the 3-1 deficit they collected from the Parc des Princes and are the only English side representin’ in Friday’s draw.

We had a nasty feeling Mourinho was planning something. If it’s masterminding Chelsea to a Champions League final against Real Madrid which they then win, probably on pens, humiliating Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos to the point where they have to quit football, we’re not playing any more. It’s so not fair.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (agg 2-1)

Jose Pinto IS The Running Man.

Atletico Madrid put on a storming performance to show Barcelona the exit last night - the Catalan club’s earliest departure from the competition since 2007. Koke scored the decisive goal in the first half, but eschewed other chances to put the tie to bed. Barcelona dominated possession as they are wont to do, a mighty 71% overall, but the standout stat of the night had to be Lionel Messi only running 1.4km more than his goalkeeper Pinto last night.

Anyone would think the man whose hair should never be released into the community without armed supervision had something to prove.

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Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Real Madrid (agg 2-3)

Jurgen Klopp has no idea how far his players ran in their 2-0 victory against Real Madrid, but described their performance as“a template for other teams chasing big deficits.”. Despite two first half goals from Marco Reus and Angel Di Maria missing a penalty, Madrid were able to hang on to the tie thanks to a 3-0 win in the first leg. Cristiano Ronaldo’s contribution was limited to giving us a glimpse of what the most coiffed manager in football would look like and a really stupid hat.

Who knew?! He’s always been such a sartorially gifted chap.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via getty.

Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, Ed Woodward, Jose Pinto, Toni Kroos

Michael Jackson: On the road again…

It brought joy to tens of people and utter bewilderment to thousands of others. Complaints about it prompted the club owner to tell people who didn’t like it to “go to hell”.

mous

It caused a row between two men that culminated in one wearing a false moustache and threatening to shave the other’s lip fringe off.

a

It was eventually manhandled off it’s plinth by a bunch of chaps in hi vis vests and has spent the last few months alone in a warehouse.

statue

Given it’s role in Fulham’s recent history, we can’t think of a better place to park the Michael Jackson statue than outside the National Football Museum, can you?

Hello? Anyone?

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via star, offthepost.

Fulham, Michael Jackson

John O’Shea: Capturing the mood of a nation

Until about twenty minutes ago, our favourite response to this goal celebration was the Daily Mail photoshopping Chris Ramsey out of the photos; presumably to save him some embarrassment

Thanks to@PAFCDanny for correcting us.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via vine.

Championship vs. Premier League: What’s #TheDifference?

nuge

This happened last time The Nuge played in the Premier League.

Still thrilled about Leicester City’s promotion?

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via blogspot.

Portsmouth, Leicester City

Weekend Highlights: Turns out, it was all a dream

We’re having an existential crisis. Perhaps it’s the rollercoaster of the run-in addling our brains, but several things have happened this weekend that have made us question whether we are actually conscious or we’re fantasising and will wake up with saliva running down our faces and Sir Alex squeezing yet another title out of an unremarkable side.

It really comes to something when you yearn for that kind of normality.

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“The Table Is Fake”

fonz

Let’s start with the latest missive from the man who’s turned mentalism into an artform when the pressure starts to bear. On the Jose scale, Mou’s claim that the table is “fake” is more finger in an eye than manager in a laundry basket mentalist than we like to see from a man who has already proven himself to be a great manager, without the need for a sense of entitlement and petulance to pervade his every utterance.

Mind games have officially jumped the shark, Jose, but we have a way to augment your strikeforce AND bring the doubters to heel. Play yourself upfront.  You know you’re dying to and it would certainly make Chelsea games more enticing for the neutral.

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The Football League Owner’s and Director’s Test

cellino
Don’t bother telling him. He already knows.

Massimo Cellino now has the right to buy a seventy-five percent share in Leeds United, despite being found guilty of tax evasion in his home country. His application was originally blocked as it was believed he was “subject to a disqualifying qualification” in the Football League’s Owners & Director’s Test but this ruling has been overturned by an independent QC on appeal.

Intially we couldn’t understand this but then we read the Football League’s Owner’s & Director’s Test section entitled “How do we find out if someone is disqualified?” and it’s weaknesses as an enforcement tool became abundantly clear.

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An intervention

 
We could write interpretations of this Eredivisie event for days, but let us just direct you to 0:14 in the video.

Says. It. All.

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Steve Bruce Masks

Are you in need of further confirmation that all this is some mad, sinister League of Gentlemen-esque perversion of reality?

bruce1

There. Hull City are selling Steve Bruce masks in their club shop and people are buying them and wearing them. No one in their right mind would choose to look like Steve Bruce.

bruce

Not even Steve Bruce, if his response to the hilarity on 606 was any indication

We’re going back to sleep. Assuming we can get that nightmarish vision out of our minds.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via twitter.

Jose Mourinho, Steve Bruce, Leeds United

Fernando Torres: Forever Blue

nando

Wow. When Jose wants rid of a player, he doesn’t mess about, does he?

Just kidding, everyone. It’s just a glimpse behind the scenes of Chelsea’s 2014/15 home kit ad. They’ve gone for a more serious approach than last year’s blue paint bonanza, immersing the likes of Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Oscar in papier mache goop, filling the resulting mould with more goop and letting it set with a view to capturing a moment in time forever.

 

It’s narrated by Mourinho, although this might not be the full extent of his involvement.

ceramic

While there’s imagery of Sad Nando lying on a slab amidst some broken pottery, there’s no *actual* footage of him being released from his cast.

guys

We reckon he might still be in there…

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By Kelly Welles

Chelsea

Whatever happened to Police Machine?

pitch
The fact that teams often have to play on what is essentially a ploughed field only increases our appreciation of the Nigerian Nationwide League.

Even Nigeria’s notoriously cavalier footballing authorities were forced to act when news broke that Plateau United Feeders and Police Machine FC had won their league play-off matches by 79-0 and 67-0 respectively.

After the games had been thoroughly drained of merriment - in one game a single player scored eleven times, another scored three own goals, hapless Akurba FC conceded 72 (SEVENTY-TWO) to Plateau in the second half alone - officials spoke of investigations, lifetime expulsions for ringleaders, and a ten year ban for all clubs involved.

training
Police Machine’s Facebook page describes this activity as “vigorous training”. Indeed.

What happened after that is a point of conjecture we aren’t going to speculate upon (because our lawyers have enough to do) but suffice to say, a cursory check of the Nigerian Nationwide League Group C results for this season reveals that not only are Police Machine alive and well but beating the likes of CBN Cashless FC (oh, the names!) 1-0.

Sadly, more in-depth information is difficult to come by, as the relevant section of nigerianationwideleague.com hasn’t been updated since 2012/13, and all the clubs involved appear to play under a selection of names. Given that the Nigerian Nationwide League’s Wikipedia page describes promotion and relegation prospects as “not guaranteed” and how in previous years, clubs have “sold” their promotion spots to other clubs, this is quite clearly a tactical move.

police
An actual Police Machine.

We can but create a google alert and hope that someone will hear our plaintive cries. Now we’ve drilled down into details of Nigerian football, the exploits of Flash Flamingoes, National Identity Management Commission FC and Crime Busters of Enugu are essential to our continuing enjoyment of the game.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via facebook.

Nigeria, Police Machine, Plateau United Feeders

Chelsea FC: Victims of a media conspiracy

    “We are not a team full of talent to score goals – especially at this level but you never know.”

    Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager, post Champions League presser, last night.

    “People who say Chelsea don’t have any good strikers don’t know anything about football, that’s my
    opinion.”

    Nemanja Matic, Chelsea midfielder, FourFourTwo magazine website, published today.

Turn to Chapter 17 of your Mourinho Mindgames manual and read the paragraph that begins “Only attempt the difficult to manage ‘media conspiracy’ angle if you have experience in the area, circumstantial evidence is available and the more traditional routes of humility, over-achievement, despair and taking the piss have failed”.

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By Kelly Welles

Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, Nemanja Matic

Super Kloppy goes ballistic, questions are atrocious

 
Noted cheer-monger Jurgen Klopp stomped out of a TV interview last night after being asked by ZDF presenter Jochen Breyer whether his side were “done” in the Champions League. According to 101greatgoals (who obviously don’t rely on google translate to make up for their pathetic grasp of European languages), the Borussia Dortmund manager, who watched his struggling side slump to a 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, replied:

“How can anyone pay my salary if I say the tie is done. I would be just as stupid to say we are going to thrash them, but I’m not going to be able continue standing in this studio to be provoked into saying a stupid thing. For stupid questions I can give stupid answers. “Mr Klopp, is it dumb?” I’m sorry, we’re gonna have to show up!”

He then put his microphone down, shook Oliver Kahn’s hand and wandered off into the bowels of the TV studio, where he was last seen beating the living shit out of a laundry basket. Probably.

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By Kelly Welles

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Mahoosive H/T to 101greatgoals. obvs.

Borussia Dortmund

What can they do with facts that we can’t do with facetious speculation?

 
We stumbled over this delightful FATV video of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson while we should have been doing more productive things.

Having watched it closely, we think it might hold the answers to England’s inexplicable ineptitude in major tournaments, rendering Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski’s excellent tome, ‘Why England Lose’, utterly redundant.

    Observation ‘A’

    Despite being a great player and an astonishingly determined young man, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
    carries the specifically English ‘Midas –In-Reverse’ gene that afflicts all promising players.

    0:11 “This is what being a footballer is about, you’ve got to perform under pressure. “.
    0:14 Collapses under pressure.

    This video was made in 2012. It’ll be rampant now.

    Observation ‘B’

    Part of the reason why England aren’t very good in international tournaments is that they stay up late
    videoing themselves. We’ll concede that keepy-ups are marginally better than other nocturnal activities
    they keep getting busted for, but they’re still quite tiring and take longer to complete.

    Observation ‘C’

    They’re using a tennis ball. Elite players use oranges.

And that, kids, is why Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski are highly respected authors and Kelly works from the Biffa bin parked outside Ramble HQ.

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By Kelly Welles

England

Champions League: Sometimes, porn is better

dog

Quarter finals of the Champions League, y’say? The first leg of a fixture that could prove to be decisive for Manchester United and certainly for David Moyes? Disallowed goals, penalty appeals, Phil Jones’ elite level gurning?

All this unfolding in front of you, and you’re browsing pictures of pooches. At least if you had been looking at pictures of naked ladywomen you might have received some (wildly misplaced) kudos.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T @StupidFootball.

Manchester United, Champions League

Look away now, Liverpool fans!

brenton

Between Gareth Bale’s surprise inclusion in the England squad & the revelation that Hodgson’s men will be playing a game in yellow as some bizarre, ill-thought out ‘tribute’ to Brazil, footie-based April Fool’s gags have been pretty disappointing this year.

Not in Norway though. In Norway, they realise that less is more. And if you’re a Liverpool fan, less is enough to give you an aneurysm. OK?

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T to @davidjmcelroy for the spot. Image via nettavision.no.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers

Karl Lagerfeld. By Zlatan.

The head designer at Chanel has given the Swedish madman a fashion makeover for Elle Man magazine. Here’s an exclusive photo from earlier in the session, before Zlatan had fully grasped his role in the shoot.

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By Kelly Welles

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Weekend Highlights: Stuck in the middle with Lawro

Stunning goals, unexpected stumbles, rumours of internet camera antics, allegations of fistfights and bucketloads of searing, incisive punditry?

It’s just a typical weekend in dem Premier Leagues, yo.

 

 
No footage exists of Tim Sherwood’s alleged punch on a player in the dressing room after yesterday’s 4-0 drubbing by Liverpool, giving his players the opportunity to deny it and wags on the internet to speculate on what such an altercation might have looked like. We’re not getting into it.

Apart from to make the entirely independent observations that while a man who wears a gilet for important meetings is clearly capable of making rash decisions, he takes enough care of his appearance to imply he’s not suicidal.

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Jose Mourinho chose a cardie, dark trousers and a 7.5 tog Arsene jacket for his weekend altercation and while eminent psychologists across the globe would never claim to know what’s going through his mind, it’s reassuring he knows that the publicity from grabbing a ballboy around the head and kneeing him in the face is not what a Chelsea title push needs.

It didn’t need a relegation threatened Crystal Palace marauding through it, or an own goal from their leader of men either, but that happened too. The poor kid should probably count himself lucky.

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paddy

David Moyes braved the threat of incoming aircraft and gave Manchester United fans an opportunity to tell him what they really think of him by taking to the Old Trafford pitch before his players on Saturday. If The Sun on Sunday’s allegations are true, most of them were still in bed, but aside from expressing mild surprise that no one has bothered to switch on the parental controls in Adnan Januzaj’s house, (he still wears a cap in bed, for god’s sake) we’re not commenting on that either.

Anyhoo, the majority of United fans present showed their support for the beleaguered manager while the main risk from the skies appeared to be congested airspace. Mere moments after the much vaunted ‘Wrong One - Moyes Out’ banner had passed by, another plane offering odds on Sir Alex Ferguson’s reinstatement did it’s own fly-by

All things being equal, we’d have preferred to see a hot air balloon with Ray Winstone’s face on it hovering above Old Trafford, but Paddy Power got there first. Bet365 marketing department? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

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!! Emergency SPL Update !!

gogie

A bright spot in an otherwise horrifying season for Marcus Speller’s Magnificent Gorgie Boys as they saved themselves from the absolute horror of being relegated by their arch rivals. I’ll tell you because that glory hunter Spellsy won’t.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T TeamSaintGG. @BanjaxArena. Images via facebook, metro, getty.

Manchester United, Chelsea, David Moyes, Jose Mourinho, Heart of Midlothian

Brazil 2014 Kit Reveal: Who are these cool customers?

england

It’s that time again. The one when a bunch of English geezers stand in front of pictures of lions trying to look as moody and menacing as a man can in shorts and knee socks, while the rest of us ponder exactly how this is supposed to help our football team succeed.

Then get ridiculously excited anyway.

rooney

Yup, Nike have released imagery of England’s home and away kits for Brazil 2014, the big news being they’ve kept it simple. The home kit consists of ice white shirt (sans collar, presumably to prevent players from expending valuable energy deciding whether to pop it), white shorts, ice white socks with ‘Sport Royal’ blue detailing. Alternate shorts are also Sport Royal, with Chevron action flash*. L’homme du sport, if you will.

red

The away strip is traditional red shirt, white shorts with red detailing and red socks, while Joe Hart will be cool as a cucumber in goal because he’ll be dressed like one. An alternative yellow strip is also available, should he be feeling fruity.

vest

Up close, the home shirt has a subtle feel of junior school vest about it, but to look positively on the whole shebang, perhaps Nike are trying to channel the energy and enthusiasm found on an English playground, rather than the bewildered floundering that usually afflicts our players when they hit a tournament pitch.

You know what, we’ll put it out there. If Roy Hodgson shows up in Manaus with a pink sweater chucked over his shoulder and a pair of string backed driving gloves on, you can safely assume that England have arrived and Roy is in control of his team. Or he’s been kidnapped and replaced with Vincent Tan.

Either way, IT’S COMING HOME, IT’S COMING HOME… IT’S COMING!!!

*Alright. There’s no action flash. But you probably knew that.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via footyheadlines, nike.

England, Brazil 2014

Ramble Says: Ssh! This is important

info

Given our habit of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story (or indeed a cheap gag), you might be surprised to see us promoting a campaign that insists upon full engagement with the facts, but don’t panic. It’s only temporary.

Our friends over at Mainline Menswear have teamed up with Prostate Cancer UK to try and raise awareness of the most common cancer in men in the UK. As the #nomakeupselfie phenomenon demonstrated, presentation of the bare essentials can be immensely provocative, and by popping some statistics about prostate cancer into a context we’re all familiar with, the two organisations hope to inform and educate.

Have a look, then visit mainlinemenswear.co.uk to learn more about the campaign and make a donation. And while you’re over there, have a little lookee at the rest of their website, which includes this rather useful advice regarding the wearing of denim shorts.

With summer coming up, it’s probably in your interest to read that too, if only to avoid some terrible Joey Essex-esque fashion catastrophe.

You’re welcome.

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By Kelly Welles

Panini Brazil World Cup 2014: One for the album?

panini

The Panini Brazil 2014 World Cup sticker album is out today.

We don’t think there will be a Ghanian Potman shiny this time round, but we figured if we show them how brilliant it would look and enough people get behind it, they might consider his inclusion for 2018. They could even make it self-immolating, for extra realism!

Dare to dream, Ramblers. Dare to dream. 

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By Kelly Welles

Panini, Ghana

Kasper Schmeichel: We are the ref

 
It’s been confirmed that Leicester City’s late equaliser against Yeovil on Tuesday has been awarded to Chris Woods, denying Kasper Schmeichel a first ever league goal. There are a number of reasons why we believe this decision to be wrong.

1.    The ball quite clearly went over the line after Schmeichel smashed it with his head.
2.    Kasper Schmeichel is a goalkeeper. Under Ramble Directive 47.6.81(2), ALL goals scored while your own keeper is ‘in and around’ the opposition penalty area should be awarded to him, regardless of whether he touched the ball or not.
3.    The Nuge.
4.    Kasper’s Dad is terrifying.
5.    That’s already enough. We’re expecting to confirmation from Zurich shortly.

All together now… NEW FIFA RULING! NEW FIFA RULING!

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By Kelly Welles

Kasper Schmeichel

Diego Corner: Threat level increases to ‘substantial’

diego

Having spent much of his ‘retirement’ engaging in measured exchanges with other footballing luminaries, Diego Maradona has expanded his horizons to international diplomacy.

In a typically measured interview with Germany’s Sport Bild, El Diego revisited his occasionally tempestuous relationship with the Argentina Football Association, claiming:

“The AFA has played dirty tricks on me. I should have also been the Argentina coach at the [2014] World Cup. But the current leaders of the association understand as much about football as Pakistan does.”

And in case that particular nail hadn’t been battered sufficiently, he lifted that famous hand, this time holding a dirty great hammer, and continued:

“They don’t have a clue at all. To clarify: There are certainly many good things in Pakistan, but I have never seen them play a World Cup final. I say: The current association leaders in Argentina are the same as Pakistan.”

It’s only a matter of time before the United Nations come knocking, really, isn’t it?

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via wordpress.

Argentina, Diego Maradona

Hashtag: Gutted

This guy #DaredToZlatan. And look what happened to him.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T 101greatgoals.

Faceshifter 2: Shear Hell

keys

Remember when this happened and we all laughed heartily?

sav

It’s happened again. And this time, the protagonists are naked. Shudder.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via Twitter.

Richard Keys, Andy Gray, Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage

Currently residing in the ‘Where are they now?’ files…

bojan

In 2007,  he became the youngest player to feature in a La Liga match for Barcelona - a record previously held by Lionel Messi. Three days later he became the youngest player to represent them in a Champions League fixture, and just over a month after that, the youngest player ever to score a goal for Barca in a league match.

So what happened to the Spanish wunderkind touted as the new Messi? Did the speed of his footwork create a rip in a space time continuum? Did he eschew football for song after appearing onstage with Shakira?

zlatan

Was goosing Zlatan the second last thing he ever did?

No. As this lovely image posted on young Bojan Krkic’s Instagram this weekend shows, he’s run off to join Cirque Du Soleil - a wise move given how well his career is panning out.

big sam

This isn’t the first time a footballing personality has followed the calling to interpretative dance though.

Here’s Big Sam Allardyce abandoning Coventry City for a role in Billy Elliot, back when men were men and male grooming was but a rumour.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images: instagram, waatp, tumblr.

Sam Allardyce, Bojan Krkic

Weekend Highlights: Normal service has been resumed

gibbs

Apparently there isn’t enough controversy surrounding refereeing decisions at the moment, so some ‘fans’ (and a few irresponsible journalists) ‘took to Twitter’ to accuse Andre Marriner of racism after he sent off the wrong player during during Chelsea’s 6-0 humiliation of Arsenal on Saturday.

This kind of constructive criticism is precisely what’s needed to help match officials eliminate mistakes from their game and if we’re really lucky, encourage more people to reconsider their decision to drop out of refereeing due to the abuse that they receive.

It isn’t as though we need officials or anything, is it? Well done to everyone involved!

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Speculative punts received a revival this weekend as both Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Melbourne Heart’s Orlando Engelaar took advantage of wandering goalkeepers from outrageous positions. But whose was the better? Rooney’s because he caught the ball on the volley and left Adrian on his backside, or Engelaar’s because it was from his own half?

Try to stick to the footballing facts when making your decision and be aware that your subconscious might trick you into voting for Roozles because the footage of his goal features D-Beck. The mind can be fallible in the face of such man beauty.

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pepe

El Clasico happened, Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and Sergio Ramos got sent off. The only thing remotely unusual about this magnificent game was that the person on the receiving end of a studdy stamp was Real Madrid’s diplomatic envoy, Pepe.

There’s never an excuse for violence, kids, but if there was, it would probably look a bit like Pepe.

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Silif Gudjersson? Great player. Changed the game.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via instagram, tumblr.

Barcelona, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Melbourne Heart

The Football Ramble: Simplified, for ease of reference

 
If you’ve ever spent any time trying to explain the Football Ramble to someone, you’ll have quickly realised what a slippery, wilfully indefinable entity it actually is.

Next time you find yourself in that position, simply tell your friend, partner, mother, father, grandparent or parole officer the following story:

On the day that the draw took place for the Champions League quarter finals, the Football Ramble website ignored it but for a cursory mention and instead published footage from a three year old BBC documentary entitled ‘Welcome To Lagos’, in which a man explains how locals refer to notable idiots in their area as ‘Dundee United’.

In. A. Nutshell.

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By Kelly Welles

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A big thanks to @EdStern, without whom we would still be floundering in our own identity crisis.

Dundee United, Dundee

Dear Jese: Get well soon. Our ability to enjoy music depends on it

 
We were gutted to hear about Jese Rodriguez’ cruciate injury and subsequent lay off. Not only was he playing well for Real Madrid and on the cusp of selection for the Spanish national team, but he will now have several months free to pursue his ‘musical’ interests. (see above)

We’re sure you’d like to join us in wishing him the speediest of speedy recoveries. 

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By Kelly Welles

Spain, Real Madrid, Jese Rodriguez

La Masia: You’ll never win anything with kids

 
These goals from Barcelona’s famous youth academy were the best of the last week. Not like, a collection of the season so far, or ever, as might be more realistic, but the last week.

Precocious simply isn’t the word, particularly for No.3 (0:37), a lovely chip from Maxi Rolón that the keeper gets a hand to and has to watch roll in anyway. And if you’re there, you might as well check out the winner. That insouciance in front of goal belongs Pau Servat, who was born on 10th February 2003.

Shall we go for staggering with a bouquet of sheer terror?

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By Kelly Welles

Barcelona, La Masia

Steven Pressley: Life Is A (Terrible) Rollercoaster

pree

2006: Leads THE MAGNIFICENT GORGIE BOYS to victory in the Scottish Cup Final, AKA The Big One. (Citation: Marcus C Speller)

 
2014: Unwilling participant in a terrible advert for Coventry City’s new photocopier supplier and ‘back of shirt sponsor’ MidRepro, AKA A broken man.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T to Swedish House Furniture from the ‘Latest’ Forum. Poor soul.

Steven Pressley, Heart of Midlothian, Coventry City

Andy Carroll: Wasted talent

We’ve probably touched on this before, but in case any of you are new to adult life, taking pictures and putting them on t’internet is not a recent development in our evolution as a species. Andy Carroll’s been at it for years, as his now moribund Bebo page will testify. 

Unbelievably, some of these shots were taken when Andy was just sixteen years old. If he had this much vision and creativity with a Nokia camera phone, can you imagine what visual treats we might have been privy to if he’d been born nine years later, and reaching creative maturity at the same time as Microsoft’s Kinect technology was redefining the possibilities of home cinema?

The mind boggles.

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andy1

Rule #1: Don’t always assume that your subject should be central. Sometimes a more pleasing effect can be found with the subject on the periphery.

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andy2

Rule #2: Don’t assume this is always the case though. Sometimes you might want to distract the viewer from an item in the picture (like brollies your mate appears to be holding), and placing your tan front and centre can help with this.

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andy3

Rule #3: Use light and shade for subtle emphasis. Here Andy has placed his boyish good looks in the shade for better definition of his abs and that wicker waste bin.

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andy5

Rule #4: Now hang on a minute. We might not be among the elite of football pundits, but that is not bloody Andy Carroll! How did she get in there?

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andy4

Rule #5:Oh, right. Sorry bout that.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via Bebo.

West Ham, Newcastle United, Andy Carroll

Kelly’s Game: You’ll learn the rules as you play!

maldini

Which former Rossoneri star is pictured on the cover of today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, claiming “They have destroyed my Milan.”

Go on, quick! Before Pete sues me for copyright.

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By Kelly Welles

Paolo Maldini

The FIFA Games: May the odds be ever in their favour

sepp

If FIFA executives continue to conduct themselves in this manner, future generations are going to believe that in the early stages of the 21st century, the FIFA house was essentially one of those money booth things which you stand in and grab all the cash you can within an allotted time frame.

You know. A bit like now.

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By Kelly Welles

Sepp Blatter, FIFA, Jack Warner, Qatar 2022

Weekend Highlights: Well done, you’ve broken football

stats
Barcelona. Still ruining FFT’s StatsZone for everybody else.

Lionel Messi has become Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, bringing the total number of records he holds to a staggering 154,726. His hat-trick, in Barca’s 7-0 tonking of Osasuna, broke Paulino Alcantara’s total of 369 goals in 357 official & friendly matches, simultaneously thwarting attempts by inept football journalists to claim his (and his club’s) best years are behind them.

Just leave it, will you? You’re basically provoking him and with a South American World Cup around the corner, this is at the very least unwise. Unless you are from Argentina, obviously.

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moyes

Another serial record breaker, although one unlikely to be as enthused by his ‘achievements’ as Mr Messi, is David Moyes. Yesterday’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford was his fifth at home in fourteen games; not a record in itself but the act of assisting United’s bitter rivals in a title push is certainly humiliating enough to stand on his mantelpiece alongside the club’s first defeats to Everton since 1992 and Newcastle since 1972.

We weren’t party to his ambitions when he was offered the job as Sir Alex’s fall guy but we imagine a squint through them would not have revealed a desire to star in his own personal re-enactment of Edvard Munch’s ‘Scream’.

But then, if he had that kind of imagination, United would probably not be eighteen points off the Premier League pace.

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bale

In Boot Porn news, adidas have countered speculation that they were trying to create the most visually arresting/horrible football boot in the world to usurp Nike’s Magista release by issuing Gareth Bale with a pair of Crazylight f50’s.

Not since Cristiano’s Safari design has so much damage been done to so many eyes by one shoe.

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Tim Sherwood is almost certainly thinking of his brother, Tim Westwood, in this clip.

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thin
We believe this footage, from his Roma days, was the last time Antonio officially saw his feet.

Golden Tapir winner Antonio Cassano scored two in Parma’s mental 4-2 victory over AC Milan, and has used the opportunity to issue a plea to Italy manager Cesare Prandelli for a spot in the World Cup squad. Cassano claims he relocated his scoring prowess after losing 10kg – citing the elimination of focaccia from his diet as the key factor.

Expect a horrible, batter smeared fitness DVD to follow in due course.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via Twitter, adidas, tonterias.

Manchester United, Nike, Liverpool, Barcelona, Italy, adidas, Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale, AC Milan, Antonio Cassano, David Moyes, Tim Sherwood, Parma, Cesare Prandelli

Emile Heskey: Ramble Force HOOOOOOOO!

ramble

Mere seconds after we alerted you to the possibility of Emile Heskey appearing in the Inbetweeners 2 movie, courtesy of a rumour on Wikipedia, one of you bright sparks got on your editor/vandal tip and amended the Ramble entry to reflect a new presenter.

Lovely bit of work. Unless you’re Pete, obviously. If you’ve been doing this instead of sorting out your game for the pod, there’s going to be big trouble.

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By Kelly Welles

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Nice spot, @leech444!

Emile Heskey

From saggy through solid to uncontrollably swerving: A World Cup balls retrospective

balls

Someone put this amazing gif on reddit. It’s all the balls used in World Cup Finals to date..

Naturally it piqued our interest, so we did some research and found out that the ball used in the 1938 World Cup in France was called ‘Allen’, while the 1962 World Cup in Chile was simply named ‘Crack’, opening up all manner of amusing gag possibilities.

kanu

During said research, we also came across this picture of Sepp Blatter posing with one of the balls used in the 1930 World Cup Final. It didn’t have a name, but we can only assume from Big Sepp’s expression that Kanu’s real date of birth is written on the side.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via reddit, onlinenewsuk.

Sepp Blatter

Joey Barton’s Social Renaissance: In Pictures

Football’s ‘sweet & tender hooligan’ recently credited Twitter for it’s contribution to his “social renaissance”.

But what exactly is a social renaissance? We spent at least twelve minutes studied Joey’s path to enlightenment and hereby present our step by step guide to getting one of your own.**

1. Let your inability to cope with daily life manifest itself in episodic violence.
anger management

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2. Both at your place of work, and in social situations.
mcdonalds

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3. Take ownership of your burgeoning notoriety. Open an account with Twitter and attempt to assert your intellectual side by quoting philosophers and Morrissey. Ignore the haterz.
twitter

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4. Channel the anger that courses through your veins into something positive. Grow a quiff and stride confidently through the well-publicised antipathy between the members of your favourite band in a vain attempt to get them back together. Draw the line at stuffing gladioli into your pockets or wearing a hearing aid at work though. You don’t want to look like a pillock.
quiff

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5. Move to France, where you can more freely articulate the battle between light and dark in your own personality. Basically, just keep acting like a maniac on the pitch, but use Nietzschean philosophy to contextualise. Add weight by adopting a French accent.
france

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6. Get a bit carried away with that.
eugenics

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7. Learn you’re involved in the wrong sport. Start appearing at the rugby -  “the thinking man’s game.” Stand next to Robbie Savage, a lovely man,a fine pundit, but also capable of making a cod look intellectual.
rugby

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8. Get invited to speak at the Oxford Union.
hair

Congratulations! Your social renaissance is complete. Until you discover that Katie Price spoke at the Oxford Union and realise your elevation is more indicative of plummeting cultural standards than your own development as an individual. Cut all your hair off.

**The Football Ramble bears no responsibility for any legal actions, accidents or injuries that arise as a result of your pursuit of social renaissance.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via telegraph.co.uk, bbs.

Joey Barton, Marseille

Nicklas Bendtner: A comedic turn

bendtner

According to the Guardian, Bendtner “stood at the back of the car and rubbed up against the side window after unbuttoning his pants while he whipped the cab with his belt”.

Tall man with repressed anger issues loses the plot after confusing, humiliating evening and whips car?

 
Good god, Nicky. At least Basil Fawlty had his bloody trousers on.

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By Kelly Welles

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Nice spot, @Docco!

Nicklas Bendter

Emile Heskey & the Inbetweeners: Ahhh, fwends?

inbetweeners

Emile Heskey is set to star in the Inbetweeners 2 movie.

This glorious (and invariably fictitious) rumour started doing the rounds after someone spotted the Newcastle Jets striker’s name on the movie’s Wikipedia page, but since his prowess in front of goal hovers at roughly the same level as Simon, Jay, Neil and Will’s success with lady women, it feels like quite a good fit.

The campaign starts here.

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By Kelly Welles

Emile Heskey, Newcastle Jets, Inbetweeners

Harry Redknapp: Thank you for your update, lady

harry

You’ve just watched your team beat QPR. As you’re celebrating, you see their manager, Harry Redknapp, being driven about on some sort of carty thing while eating a packet of sweets. You rush up to him and, taking advantage of his bleary eyed confusion, you flash the score with your fingers while your mate takes your picture.

It’s like taking candy from a pensioner, isn’t it?

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via 101greatgoals.

Harry Redknapp, Queens Park Rangers, Brighton & Hove Albion

Sean Garnier: Probably the best skillz video in the world

Foreground: Freestyler Sean Garnier repeatedly outwits an energetic hound with fancy footwork.

Background: Small person attempts mid air heel click (presumably for the sheer joy of it) and lands in a crumpled heap.

Perfect.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T soccerhighlights.

Sean Garnier

Herve Renard: We’re not angry. Just disappointed

 
We’re prepared to excuse a moment of confusion in a high emotional state, Herve, (especially since you’re so damn dreamy when you’re angry), but if you should you ever find yourself in a situation where you believe your player has been kicked by a follicularly challenged opponent and then erroneously sent off again, do not stride up and down the touchline shouting “GET THE BALDIE!”.

Thank heavens Marcus Speller has a robust head of hair. He’d be inconsolable otherwise.

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By Kelly Welles

Herve Renard, Sochaux

Iain Dowie: Bollywood style

dowie

The question is, did we spend the morning reading about the important events in the weekend’s football and trying to disseminate them into an entertaining post for your reading pleasure?

Or did we sack off work to read Zlatan’s increasingly unhinged Twitter updates & then attempt to distract you by publishing this photo of Iain Dowie in a Bollywood costume?

If the answer to that wasn’t blatantly obvious you’re not listening to enough Rambles.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via Twitter.

Iain Dowie

#DareToZlatan: Yes. This is really happening

zlatan

Whoever is running Zlatan’s Twitter feed at the moment is having the time of their life.

zlatan 1

We’re not sure what’s more worrying though.

zlatan2

If Zlatan’s actually writing this stuff, he’s way madder than we’ve given him credit for. If it’s not, he’s got disciples who are actively promoting the myth of Zlatan to an unsuspecting public.

zlatan3

Either option is worrying for the successful continuation of the species.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via Twitter.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Asier Illarramendi: Bat n’ bull

 
Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi has apologised after being filmed running in front of a bull while dressed in a Batman costume at a street festival in Spain.

asier

Because no self-respecting comic book fan would call that a Batman costume?  Or because running around in front of a tethered, confused bull is a somewhat bizarre way to assert one’s masculinity?

Who knows. Could be either. Or both.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via facebook.

Real Madrid, Asier Illarramendi

Romanian Football: Equality in action

becali

Don’t be fooled by Gigi Becali’s intolerant and narrow-minded approach to football. If this image of a Romanian amateur pitch is any evidence, employment opportunities for the visually impaired are available in abundance.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T BBCSporf.

Boot Porn: Oh, put a sock in it

adidas1

Two-and-a-half years ago, The Boot With A Brain was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. No longer would we have to guess how many fewer kilometres we run in a game than Lionel Messi; our lack of match fitness would instead be writ large across the internet for all the world to see.

Since that time, developments in boot technology have continued apace, with innovations such as Lethal Zones, microfibers, split toe plates and visibility from space all promising to take (or at least limit) the embarrassment your terrible first touch invariably brings. 

nike1

But something unusual has been happening behind the diversion of startling colourways. For a few months now, players have been pictured cooing over pixelated boots in boxes, photos of blacked out, unconventionally shaped oddities have been snatched on training pitches and rumours of Nike testing an alien sock-like contraptions called the ‘Magista’ abound.

adidas2

Even more unusually, these rumours have turned out to be true. Hours before Nike officially unveiled the Magista, adidas followed up their launch of the World’s First Knitted Football Boot with images of their new prototype – the PrimeKnit FS – which claims to be the World’s First Knitted All-In-One Football Boot & Sock Hybrid.

It might sound weird, it might look weird, but the launch of Nike’s Magista, also avec sock, confirms that the hybrid is where we’re headed. Reaction across the internet has so far been mixed, but with release dates still to be confirmed, it’s all aesthetic at the moment, with many reviewers recoiling from the idea of wearing a snood around their ankle.

thiago

It’s unlikely either company will lose sleep over this though. If the likes of Andres Iniesta, Bastian Schweinsteiger & David Luiz score enough goals in them on the pitches of Brazil, there won’t be a glimpse of boot porn enthusiast’s ankle to be found anywhere.

Mark our words.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via adidas, nike.com

Nike, adidas, Magista

Michael Owen: The loneliness of the long distance runner…

mick

... is apparently so pressing, it prompts him to share waaaay too much information on social media.

Cheers Mike!

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via twitter.

Michael Owen

Zinedine Zidane: The King is dead, long live the King

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made a reasonable claim for the crown of ‘King of Kung Fu Football’ in recent years, but in last night’s Match against Poverty, Zinedine Zidane decisively repossessed it with this stunningly casual back heel pass.

2

He scored twice in his side’s 8-6 victory over Young Boys Berne, ably assisted by Ronaldo, Christian Vieri, Fabio Cannavaro, Luis Figo, Pavel Nedved, Marta and ‘STOP! Is it Paolo Maldini?’.

marta

Ironically, this could be the only line-up in footballing history the big Swede might not feel able to improve. Although we wouldn’t suggest betting your mortgage on it.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images: newslog.gr

Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, ronaldo, Gennaro Gattuso, Pavel Nedved, Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavaro

John Terry: Prematurely promoted

jt

Turns out that the surprise Oscar appearance isn’t the only glimpse at a dystopian future floating around the internet.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via tumblr.

John Terry, Chelsea

The Week: Our generosity knows no bounds…

week

You know that whole hour of searing football analysis/irreverent humour we supply you with every week, free, gratis and without charge? The betting tips, the book offers, the videos of Pete dancing in a suggestive manner with a selection of furniture items?

We give you all that and yet we love you all so much, it’s still not enough. Have yerselves a free copy of The Week; a magazine containing all the news, sport, current affairs, culture and commentary that you should have been paying attention to while you were actually watching the footie.

Flippin’ marvellous scenes.

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By Kelly Welles

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GET IT HERE!

Carnival 2014: The Usual Suspects

ronaldo

Ronaldo. Simultaneously stretching the boundaries of our incredulity AND his smart gold suit.

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neymar

Neymar was also channelling the spirit of carnival, despite having just landed in Johannesburg with Dani Alves…

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alves

...who looked unusually under dressed next to his compatriot.

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deco

If only the same could be said for Deco.

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On the other hand, at least he was dressed and not baying into a microphone in a manner suggesting imminent dinosaur attack.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via totalbarca, yahoo.

Brazil, Neymar, Ronaldinho, ronaldo, Deco

Homeless FA: YOU could be #TheDifference

 
Fortunately, most of us will never know what it’s like to be homeless. We can only imagine what it feels like to wander the streets as the night closes in, cold, hungry, fearful and in search of a safe place to sleep.

But it isn’t just the physical uncertainties that take their toll on the UK’s homeless population. It’s tough to remain hopeful and motivated to move your life forward when circumstances are tying you to a mate’s floor or the vague possibility of bed in a hostel.

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‘Be The Ball’ is the latest initiative of the Homeless FA, an organisation established to help homeless people re-engage with the self-confidence and self-respect required to take the first steps back into a more secure, happier life.

They do this by offering 5 day football courses to men and women during April and May, which include professional training at an affiliate club – Arsenal, Bristol City, Manchester United, Norwich City and Sunderland are among those currently involved – and the opportunity to earn an accredited Level One Sport’s Leaders qualification. They may even be selected to represent England in the Homeless World Cup, which this year is taking place in Chile.

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The Homeless FA state that their emphasis “is on personal development, both on and off the pitch, and we support players to increase their self-confidence, self-esteem, and offer to help improve stress management, teach leadership and a range of other life skills.”

It’s a worthy mission indeed, and one we’re delighted to get behind at the Ramble. Which is where you come in. Programmes cost about £250,000 per year to run, and despite great support from their affiliate clubs and sponsors, the Homeless FA is looking for donations to help them continue their work.

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You can donate via their justgiving page. At some games, a fiver barely covers the cost of a drink and a matchday programme, but there it can provide a player with education resources, which might go some way to helping a guy like Tom Queripel, who lived in a tent for two months before he got involved.

“It makes you feel that there are people like you, who are going through the same things,” Tom said. “It doesn’t only make yourself feel good inside, but it makes other people around you think you’re worth something, that you’ve achieved something, that you can make something of your life. There’s no negativity here. It’s all positives, because we’re all in the same boat. We’re all friends.”

“It’s to do with us having the determination to change our lives. I couldn’t have done it without this course. It’s changing my life, but it’s also changing the lives of people around me. You’re not just walking out the door with a qualification, you’re walking out a completely different person.”

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By Kelly Welles

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For more information, visit Homelessfa.org.

Make a donation to BeTheBall here.

Homeless FA, Homeless World Cup, #passtheball, #betheball

Weekend Highlights: Mad Men

 
Manchester United came as close as they probably will to winning a trophy this season at the weekend, after Manuel Pellegrini briefly became confused over which Manchester club he had just led to the Capital One Cup trophy.

“I love pressure so to manage a big team as Manchester United and to have options in all the competitions is very good, is very beautiful for all of us.” Pellegrini told reporters in a post match interview.

Unless he was actually pitching for a jobshare managing his arch rivals. Given the pressure Moyes is under of late, some advice from the guy whose side could still win an unprecedented quadruple might be just what’s needed.

If only Alan Pardew had been available for comment.

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Rest easy, Ramblers. The pretty faces of Spain’s players will be preserved now that Cesare Prandelli has dropped Daniele De Rossi from the Italy squad for punching Inter’s Mauro Icardi. The midfielder, whose episodes of unfettered on-pitch lunacy include elbowing Brian McBride in the face, punching Lazio’s Stefano Mauri during the Rome derby and wearing a beard in a threatening manner, escaped punishment for the penalty area offence during Roma’s feisty but ultimately fruitless encounter with Inter, but will no doubt face some kind of censure when the Italian FA get hold of the footage.

Assuming they can find his hideout in the woods, of course.

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How does a keeper get on free kicks? At Millonarios, it’s when he’s already scored three goals this season. Alright?

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hoo

Not celebrating a goal against a club you might have joined is now a thing. Cheers for that, Wes Hoolahan.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via edp24.

Manchester United, Italy, Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini, Wes Hoolahan, Daniele De Rossi

Alan Pardew: “THE BOOK IS ABOUT TO BE THROWN!”

 
Regular viewers of Soccer Saturday will know that it doesn’t take a great deal to get Jeff Stelling into a foaming frenzy (a result for Hartlepool United is usually sufficient) but of all the reactions we’ve seen to the moment Alan Pardew headbutted Hull City’s David Meyler on the touchline during Newcastle’s 4-1 win, Stelling’s is probably the most efficient summary.

So far we’ve only caught a glimpse of the contents of the weighty tome the presenter refers to, but no author would bother to make it up. It opens with Pardew being sent to the stands for his offence, takes in a £100,000 fine from the club, condemnation from commentators, fans and the press as well as the early exchanges of a promising row with Graeme Souness.

Plot developments will include (but not be limited to) an FA enquiry, an extended ban and a ‘difficult’ conversation with club chairman Mike Ashley.

Keep reading, Ramblers. This one has real potential for our internationally renowned Book of the Week award.

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By Kelly Welles

Alan Pardew, Newcastle United, Football Association

England 2002 World Cup Squad: A glimpse at what could have been…

pavester

Imagine how different our lives could have been if this photograph had been taken in 2002.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via instagram.

Kenny Pavey, Sven Goran Eriksson, England 2002

The Marcus Speller Award for Services to Dinkage

Esteemed Rambler @liam_twomey fancies this as “the world’s first free kick dink”.

You having that, Ramblers? Or will you be maintaining a stance that the award should be retrospective, making Kevin Sheedy the inaugural winner?

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By Kelly Welles

Kevin Sheedy

Roy Keane: The Reluctant Funster/mentalist

roy

This tweet panders to our idea of what kind of a man Roy Keane is to such an extent, we don’t actually care if it’s genuine or not.

Stick it up yer bollocks.

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By Kelly Welles

Roy Keane

Mirza Merlani: Now knowingly lobbed

 
Examples of fair play in Georgian football aren’t something we report on every day, so take a moment to savour players from FC Dinamo Tblisi and FC Sioni Bolnisi falling over themselves to rectify Xisco Muñoz’s Hollywood pass back to Mirza Merlani.

Unfortunately, Tblisi’s gesture of allowing Sioni to equalise backfired when fabulously named twenty-one year old substitute Jaba Ugulava then went on to score the winner in the 85th minute, ending a run of four games without a win for his side.

Football is a cruel & heartless mistress, eh Ramblers?

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T 101greatgoals.com

FC Dinamo Tblisi, FC Sioni Bolnisi

Scotland Away Kit: Less Braveheart, more Bravetart

Chelsea: We all dream of a team of er… César Azpilicuetas

 
Well, Jose Mourinho does, anyway. Prior to tonight’s colossal game vs. Galatasaray, the Chelsea manager told adidas gamedayplus that the fullback possessed the qualities and character required to compete at the highest level of club football and that an eleven made up entirely of the man they call ‘Dave’ would “probably win the competition”.

We wouldn’t be entirely opposed to this experiment, were it possible. If nothing else, it might inspire the tabloids to headline their match reports with something other than references to local cuisine.

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By Kelly Welles

Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, Galatasaray

Weekend Highlights: Decisive Battles

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They won the battle for Wayne Rooney’s heart and/or wallet last week and he rewarded them with a cracking goal vs. Crystal Palace on Saturday, but sceptics remain unconvinced as to whether he’ll win the war for Manchester United.

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zlatan

There’s no such prevarication with leader of men Zlatan Ibrahimovic. During PSG’s 4-2 victory over Toulouse, he had time to flub a panenka, score a hat-trick anyway and have a little sit down. He’d also almost certainly look better than Wayne Rooney in a leather thong too, although given that photographic evidence probably already exists in Zlatan’s ‘personal’ photo collection, it’s best not to think about that too much.

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On the plus side, Weidenfeller can’t say he didn’t see it...

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slocombe

Opportunities for good cheer and merriment among Portsmouth fans were few and far between on Saturday, so fair play to Bradley Saunders for attempting to liven things up by grabbing a selfie with unsuspecting and underemployed Scunthorpe keeper Sam Slocombe.

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Holland was the place to be at the weekend if Temuri Ketsbaia-esque explosions of emotion are your thing. Having just watching his Feyenoord colleagues concede a last minute equaliser to FC Twente and with it the opportunity to leapfrog them in the Eredivisie table, Graziano Pelle went on a mission of mass destruction with his feet. He kicked the dugout, a door and a camera tripod before disappearing into the changing room, where he presumably set about punching the living shit out of a tray of sandwiches.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image: 101greatgoals, @Penfold3.

Manchester United, Portsmouth, Paris St Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Wayne Rooney, Feyenoord, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Scunthorpe, Eredivisie, FC Twente

Gareth Bale: Scorchio!

El Diego: Slouching towards humiliation

diego

“Within five gameweeks, Maradona will be playing for [us].”

“He will debut on approximately the 23rd of March.”

                                                                  A ‘source’ from fifth-tier Argentine side Deportivo Riestra.

Oh come on. Don’t make out like you’re surprised the big man might be coming out of retirement at 53. It’s been on the cards since Santos threatened to bring Pele back for the Club World Cup, hasn’t it?

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By Kelly Welles

Pele, Diego Maradona, Santos

NoMorePage3: Get your kits out

forest

Say what you like about Richard Keys and Andy Gray, but their work in publicising the rampant sexism apparently stalking the corridors of football broadcasting in the guise of ‘banter’ is second to none.

Of course, while the El Crude brothers’ antics - questioning the officiating ability of a lino because of their gender, making sexually suggestive remarks to female colleagues, all made when they claim to have believed they were off mic - sent shockwaves of embarrassment through a game desperately trying to rid itself of a reputation as a haven for Neanderthal man, it would be naïve to say these attitudes occur in isolation.

But while the more responsible outlets of the mainstream press have done their best to suppress racist, homophobic and nationalist commentaries, sexism is still alive, well and living in our tabloids. And nowhere more so than in The Sun.

A small but increasingly powerful contingent of feminist activists have spent the last couple of years drawing attention to the impact that the objectification of women in the media can have on the daily lives of women. One group, NoMorePage3, have directed their efforts towards the country’s biggest selling tabloid, using petitions, letters and social media to pressurise Sun editor Dominic Mohan into dropping the photographs of topless women that have appeared daily on Page 3 of the paper since November 1970.

Having elicited support from the media and government and a hint from Rupert Murdoch that he may be open to dropping the feature, NoMorePage3 are now dipping their toes in what many perceive to be the last refuge of sexist idiot. Earlier this week, it was announced that Nottingham Forest Ladies would be following in the footsteps of Cheltenham Town Ladies and playing the rest of the season in shirts emblazoned with the NoMorePage3 logo.

It’s a smart move. Football is in a state of flux at the moment; the grip of the traditional fan who believes that football is a ‘man’s game’ increasingly at odds with a rising demand for inclusivity. While NoMorePage3 sponsoring women’s football isn’t exactly a watershed moment in the grand scheme of things, their very presence is an indication that people are tired of seeing the game they love embarrassed and censured in the media by those who are supposed to represent it’s best interests.

NoMorePage3’s campaigning has proved to be a massive pain in the arse for News International, the global corporation that publishes The Sun. Their simple mission statement has recruited a usually silent majority of people who object to the persistent objectification of half the population in a daily newspaper and vocalised their dissent. There is absolutely no reason why they won’t be able to do so in football and though it seems implausible now, we wouldn’t bet against NoMorePage3 appearing on the shirts of a professional male team in the not too distant future.

We hope so anyway. Anything that minimises the possibility of some buffoon deciding to yell ‘get your tits out for the lads’ across the stands would feel like progress at this point.

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By Kelly Welles

Nottingham Forest, Cheltenham Town, NoMorePage3

British Weather: The argument for…

 
How often have you wished that you lived in a hot climate? A climate offering temperatures of up to 28 degrees in February, allowing you the freedom & opportunity to go to work in your casual summer garb, meet friends and even have a kickabout with your mates without the risk of losing a limb to frostbite?

You need to meet Daniel Cordoba. He’s the manager of Peruvian side Sport Huancayo and the reason why you should be grateful you live in a country where winter temperatures demand that the likes of Arsene Wenger, Sam Allardyce & Steve Bruce are forced to don bench coats, scarves, snoods and other maximum coverage garments before they even think about stepping outside.

British weather eh? Best in the world.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T dirtytackle.

Arsene Wenger, Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce, Daniel Cordoba, Sport Huancayo

Shirts v Skins: The FIFA Legacy

ronaldo

FIFA’s efforts to regulate and corporatise every aspect of football mean that kids like this can’t afford replica shirts, let alone the price of a ticket to see match at a World Cup being held in their country.

Luckily for the game as we know it, it doesn’t stop them playing.

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By Kelly Welles

Image via imgur. Nice find, @meathat.

ronaldo, Brazil 2014

Wenger vs. Mourinho: That spat in full

Champions League: Combat Canister v2.0

mich

Despite originally being a cricketing term, in football parlance ‘the corridor of uncertainty’ has come to refer to the space between the goalkeeper and the last line of defenders - the inference being that if the ball lands in that area it forces the players to make a decision as to whose responsibility it might be to deal with it.

 
But while watching last night’s Champions League fixtures, we happened to notice that pivotal incidents seemed to be occurring in an area just behind the aforementioned corridor. Martin Demichelis’ tickle-tackle that brought down Lionel Messi, conceded a penalty and saw the Argentine defender sent off happened in precisely the same spot from which Zlatan smashed in his second strike and most magnificent goal in what? An hour?

Now we’ve identified the importance of this little quadrant of green, green grass, in which a player’s response to a situation defines the outcome of a matche? Pellegrini’s Proving Ground? The Launchpad for Lunacy? The Decision Divot?

Ramblers? It’s over to you.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via bleachereport.

Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Manchester City, Lionel Messi, Martin Demichelis

Boot Porn: adidas adiZero F50 Messi

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Quite honestly, we feel that it would be in the best interests of everybody except Barcelona and Argentina to make Lionel Messi play all his games in flip flops, but for some inexplicable reason, adidas continue to ply the world’s best player with cutting edge boots that will only enhance his already ridiculous skills.

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Yesterday saw the reveal of the latest update to Messi’s signature boot, the adiZero F50 Messi, and as is only reasonable for launch of this magnitude, the player will be debuting them in tonight’s hotly anticipated Champions League clash between Manchester City and Barcelona at the Etihad.

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Continuing the preference for footwear identifiable from space, the boot incorporates shades of green, blue, pink and orange into a white upper that also features the iconic adidas stripes, is precision engineered and weighs just 165g, making it one of the lightest on the market.

They’re pandering to every sordid whim we have, boot porn aficionados. And we’re loving it.

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bird

adidas released the match ball for the remaining fixtures yesterday too. Here’s a picture of it posing in the Estádio da Luz, home of Benfica and Vitória (Victory) the eagle.

If you thought getting the ball off Messi was tough, have a crack at this guy.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via adidas.

adidas, Lionel Messi

Diego Maradona: “The Hand of Juan”

mata

Twenty eight years later, he finally understands the significance of a misplaced hand.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via twitter.

Diego Maradona, Juan Mata, Mexico 86

Howard Webb: The Homer & the Odyssey

 
It started with Alan Green.

The gruff Northern Irishman’s incessant chipping about match officials’ decision-making abilities became a feature of his slot on Sunday’s 606, and remains thus, despite the fact he’s long since been replaced with the eminently more relevant and easier on the ear style of Kelly Cates and Ian Wright.

webb

Green may well have exploded had he still been in the hotseat last night. Fans flooded the football phone-in with calls about Howard Webb after Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over Liverpool yesterday, criticising both his failure to award a penalty to Liverpool after a clattering challenge on Luis Suarez by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his response to Raheem Sterling’s electric touch earlier in the match.

He would no doubt have been thrilled to hear his legacy continues to inspire. Wright briefly broke from the necessarily snug confines of broadcasting protocol, muttering ‘Homer’ during one call last night – teasingly implying that Webb, like many refs, tends to favour the home team in a fixture and that was why he overlooked what many consider to be a cast iron penalty shout, despite it happening under his very nose.

cates

Unlike Green’s emotional and frequently provocative outbursts though, Wright’s claim is backed up by statistical evidence. According to a survey reported by the Guardian last April, decisions made by officials across a range sports tend to show a bias towards the home team, particularly in games involving a large crowd.

Which brings us once again to the interminable question of video analysis. According to the Guardian piece,  “…when the instant-replay challenge was introduced to the NFL in 1999, it led to a 29.4% drop in home advantage. In football the effect could be even greater: because the game is low scoring, one decision – a penalty, red card or offside goal – is more likely to affect the result.”.

This is grist to the mill of the technology lobby, but while the benefits of constant quantification and retrospective assessment of football matches are persuasive given the implications that one incorrect decision can have on a club these days, it might do to remember that the heart of football is man, not machine.

Like it or not, our game is one built on errors; the highs of witnessing a moment of outrageous skill are only so high because we’ve all been on the end of a catastrophic player error that results in us threatening to burn our season tickets, only to slink back into our seats for the next home game a fortnight later.

The more certainties there are, the less exciting something is. A referee’s fallibility might be more visible than the players on most occasions, but that makes a balanced view all the more important. Apparently, officials make up to six hundred decisions per game, the majority of which they get right.

In a world increasingly driven by statistical evidence, that one rarely gets an airing on the UK’s biggest football phone-in. Perhaps it should.

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By Kelly Welles

Liverpool, Arsenal, Ian Wright, Kelly Cates, Howard Webb

Herve Renard: One step closer….

 
“Why is it like death in this stadium?!” shouted Herve Renard, as his side cantered to their 4th (FOURTH) victory of the season.

Don’t worry too much, Herve. At the rate Fulham are going through managers, you’ll be asking the same question at Craven Cottage within weeks.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T @101greatgoals. They know.

Fulham, Herve Renard, Sochaux

Kevin Keegan: Birthday Boy

It seems fitting that the Ramble’s favourite fail magnet was born on Valentine’s Day. The man is a lover, not a fighter, and to prove it, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Keggy moments for you all to enjoy.

It’s our Valentine to you guys. Browse it while you’re waiting for your postman to arrive.

We’re sure he or she will be there soon, although it is getting late, isn’t it?

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Keggy vs. Machine

 
It’s impossible to over emphasise how exciting BBC Superstars was to the unfortunate generations who missed out. It’s persecution and reckless endangerment of athletes in the prime of their career is crystallised beautifully in this clip, which sees our man pedalling the hell out of a racer before stacking it, sliding across several feet of gravel before coming to rest, legs akimbo, on the track.

What. A. Guy.

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Keggy vs. Gender Stereotypes
pink

Real men wear pink.

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Keggy vs. Gravity

 
Some Newcastle United players have come to regret their association with helicopters, but not Keegan. This, one of his finest moments, sees him plucked, in full kit, from the St James’ Park pitch after announcing his retirement.

Despite his best efforts, Graham Souness failed to spoil the party.

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Keggy vs. Biology

 
The seventies. Quite homoerotic really.

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Keggy vs. Football

Ever since then I waited for the teamsheet before changing. Keegan, for example, would come in and tell us if we were playing straight away. His team talks were always very simple and he’d often say, “Just two minutes of your time, lads.” Once he came in and was about to speak to us when he went back out again to get his coat. Tino stood up, put on a coat and went, “OK lads just two minutes of your time,” in that accent of his. Seconds later KK walked in and just told Tino to carry on! Some managers would have gone spare but Keegan always laughed and joked with the rest of the lads.”

                                                              John Beresford. Newcastle United Defender, 1992-1998

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Keggy vs. The Football Ramble
panini

No man can call himself an elite footballer until he has survived the scrutiny of the DWHof panel.

He did, therefore he can.

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By Kelly Welles

Kevin Keegan, Newcastle United, Hamburg

Brazil 2014 Kit Watch: Argentina #TeamTexture

home

Home kit. Vertical,sky blue stripes on a white background. Standard.

aaway

Away kit. Horizontal blue stripes of ascending depth in a variety of tantalising textures.

One way or another, it’s going to be difficult to see past them in the tournament.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via adidas. H/T to @RoyNemer for the spot!

Argentina, Lionel Messi

Ponticelli vs. Riolo Terme: Headbangers Ball

 
There’s celebrating, then there’s the wilful destruction of someone else’s property.

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By Kelly Welles

Ponticelli, Riolo Terme, Calcio

Brazil 2014 Kit Watch: England

england

What’s going to be the key to a successful World Cup campaign in Brazil, people? Robust, energetic players marauding up the flanks? Possession based football? A tactical, flexible approach? Good ventilation?

Like all hopeful England fans, we would give virtually anything to see our team rampage through Group D using the former method, then look on in awe as Hodgson pragmatically rearranges the style of play to negotiate a path through the knock-out stages and into the final.

We are also realists, and therefore delighted to see that the shirt rumoured to be covering the players’ backs this June not only offers a smart, uncluttered look, but lots of lovely vents down the sides to keep them as cool as it’s possible to be when your opening match is in a city described by Lonely Planet as “an incongruous pocket of urbanity in the middle of the jungle”.

Consider that box firmly ticked.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via sickchirpse.com.

England

Lukas Podolski: The solution to London’s transport crisis?

With London recovering from yet another tube strike, you may find yourself struggling to get from A to B in a timely, non-homicidal manner.

Lukas Podolski’s familiarity with all forms of transport in his adopted city make him just the man to assist you with that all important journey. Why not pop aboard, Ramblers?

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By (Wenger) Bus
bus

Not a very reassuring sight while you’re wrestling with your Oyster Card, but needs must in times of crisis.

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By Car

 
Take the frustration out travelling by letting Lukas drive you to your destination. Admittedly you’ll be replacing it with a fear for your own life, but hey.

A change is as good as a rest.

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By Horse
pony

Avoid those congestion charges by hopping on the back of Poldi’s Pony.

Hopefully not a euphemism, but The Football Ramble take no legal responsibility for any misunderstandings that may occur as a result of this post.

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By Cannon
gun

If all else fails, why not get the striker to fire you to your destination from one of the Arsenal cannons?

Given the alternatives shown, it might ironically prove to be the safest option.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via instagram.

Arsenal, Lukas Podolski

Andrea Pirlo: Pass Master

 
Never, in the history of condiments, has the understanding between two footballers been articulated so effectively.

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By Kelly Welles

Andrea Pirlo, Stephan Lichtsteiner

Goalkeeping Errors: A How-To guide

 
Having thoroughly enjoyed Enaut Zubikarai’s howler vs. Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey last night, we were perusing t’internet for similar goalkeeper gaffes and found this (below) on deadspin.

 
The harrowing footage apparently comes from an U-20’s game in China. While the keeper could (with some justification) claim he was distracted by the attempts to clear the ball, the speed with which he travels from nonchalant first touch to defeated resignation is Enckelman-esque.

Deeply satisfying scenes for everyone unconnected to the club. 

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By Kelly Welles

Barcelona, Real Sociedad, Enaut Zubikarai, Enckelman

Error Message 101, PT.2: Off the ball incidents

zlatan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sends Cristiano Ronaldo a typically selfless birthday present.

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kammy

Chris Kamara demonstrates that his inability to stand front and centre of a camera lens extends to selfies too.

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traore

Lacina Traore wore this outfit for his first visit to Goodison Park on Saturday. A first glimpse at the new ‘accessorising knitwear with a haircut’ trend set to sweep the footballing world?

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head

No idea. You?

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via @Theleaguemag, liverpoolecho.co.uk, twitter.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chris Kamara, Lacina Traore

Antonio Cassano & the Golden Tapir of Shame

cassano

Here’s Ramble favourite and noble pastry muncher Antonio Cassano picking up his 7th (SEVENTH) Tapiro d’Oro award a couple of weeks ago.

The ‘Golden Tapir’ is presented to celebrities by Italian TV show Striscia La Notizia as a reward for acts of spectacular buffoonery. Cassano’s latest gaffe was to publicly announce a desire to return to former club Sampdoria in the January transfer window.

Just in case Parma’s fans weren’t irritated enough by their striker’s commitment issues, he then reiterated his point to the presenter. “I wanted so much to go to Genoa, but I’m fine here, too, it does not do anything.” Cassano told Valerio Collecchio Staffelli as he was presented with the small, probably not really golden, odd-toed ungulate.

It may not surprise you to learn that Mario Balotelli has also collected the award on several occasions.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via sport.leonardo.it

Cristiano Ronaldo: Channelling Ferguson

 
It’s been almost five years since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United for the slightly brighter environs of the Bernabeu, but it seems that he still holds Sir Alex Ferguson’s methods in high regard.

Using our own limited knowledge of Spanish, the subtitles and Google Translate (yes, we really have gone big time) on this recent video, we’ve worked out that Ronaldo defends Nike against Xabi Alonso’s dismissal of their product as “basketball shoes” by claiming that they are worn by TOP, TOP players.

Tabloid editors (and pedants like us) will instantly spot that Ronaldo’s words echo that of his former manager, who kicked off a huge debate about Steven Gerrard’s footballing ability after using those very words in his autobiography.

Will this spark a war of words between the two biggest boot manufacturers in the world? Are Nike boots really made of plastic or are they actually an amalgam of recycled water bottles and Pebax® Renu? Is this a hint from Ronaldo that he’s preparing for a move back to Old Trafford?

And perhaps the most important question - will Brendan Rodgers get involved?

If so, you can be sure we’ll be all over it. OK?

By Kelly Welles

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H/T to Chris Nee for the spot.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Brendan Rodgers

Joe Kinnear: A breezy geezer

breezy

When asked for reaction to the shocking news that Joe Kinnear had parted company with Newcastle United, Pete Donaldson sat back in his armchair in the Ramble’s oak panelled library, adjusted the belt on his smoking jacket and thoughtfully exhaled a generous lungful of Gauloise smoke, before saying this:

“Like the bloke in an outdoor cafe who pushes a map under your nose while his chubby mate makes off with your wallet and phone, Joe was a mere distraction, a big rummy trifle. Like one of those massive inflatable men they stick outside car dealerships to attract customers, but less intelligent.”

Actually, can inflatable men work fax machines? If so, there’s a job going…

That more or less covers it, we fancy.

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By Kelly Welles

Newcastle United, Joe Kinnear

Good feet for a multi-instrumentalist: Rainbow Kicks with St Vincent

Welcome to an exciting new series of videos in which you can learn how unskilled you are with a football by watching obscure avant-garde musicians perform tricks you can’t do.

First up is the impossibly talented Annie Clark, otherwise known as St Vincent, taking us through the mechanics of the ‘rainbow kick’, popularised by the likes of Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo & Robinho.

Next week: Lollipops with Patti Smith.

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By Kelly Welles

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Thanks to Jeremy Toohlalaan from the RambleForum. Excellent find, sir!

Neymar, Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Annie Clark, St Vincent, Robinho

Premier League Prattle: Ooh, you are awful. But I like you

poyet

While many non-horse puncherers were scratching their heads at the decision to play the untelevised Tyne-Wear derby at 12:45pm, the hospitality standards at the Boleyn Ground were being tested to their limits by our very own roving Rambler Kelly, who infiltrated the Alpari stand for West Ham’s fixture vs. Swansea City.

Having availed herself of all that was on offer in the local hostelries, it’s been quite difficult to ascertain her exact findings, except to say that “everyone she met was lovely”, the second half “redefined her understanding of the term backs-to-the-wall defending”  and that Hammers’ fans apparent intolerance of pony tails is “ridiculous” given that they “only seem to apply to the bloke sporting one when he’s just fallen down clutching his face”.

In spite of all these distractions, West Ham picked up a crucial three points – only the third time they’ve done so in front of their home support all season. Despite their perilous position in the league, the season ticket holders Kelly spoke to still believe Big Sam is the man to lead them forward.

Their spirit is set to be tested though. If the club’s appeal against Carroll’s red card fails, that’s another three games out for the striker, just when he appears to be rekindling his understanding with former Newcastle United team-mate and surrogate Dad, Kevin Nolan.

Big Sam was not available for interview. Probably best.

zaha

Another team relishing a firmer grip on the rope ladder of survival are Cardiff City, who came from behind to beat Norwich 2-1. As is the way of modern football, this ended up being yet another stick to beat David Moyes with – Cardiff’s win being inspired by Wilfried Zaha, who Moyes apparently found expendable enough to send out on loan.

Manchester United lost 1-2 to Stoke City, despite a starting line-up that featured Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

lallana

United are now seventh and the records are dropping like flies. Fortunately, their next league fixture is against Fulham, whose recent form, including Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Southampton, implies that one only needs to ask politely for the points to receive them.

Let’s hope Moyes remembers, or the privilege of choosing who gets to play in the iconic red shirt may no longer be his.

ox

As it stands, Arsenal are top of the table after their 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Manchester City will overtake them if they beat Chelsea at the Etihad tonight, but if the Blues can pull off an unlikely win, they will be level on points with Pellegrini’s free scoring side.

 

 
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely to make Liverpool fans feel better about Kolo Toure’s craptastic pass across his own penalty area that resulted in West Brom’s equaliser.

He knows what he’s done, the prawn.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via facebook.

Manchester United, Cardiff City, West Ham, stoke city, Swansea City

Statement on the release of Andy Gray and Richard Keys video

On Thursday 30th January, we received a thirty second video of Richard Keys and Andy Gray behaving in an inappropriate manner towards a Sky Sports colleague.

We decided it was in the public interest to release said video, which we did.

The Football Ramble Ltd has no formal or informal relationship with Sky Sports or their subsidiary companies, nor have we sought to profit financially from the video.

In the coming hours and days several newspapers would contact us, asking if we’d be happy to provide an unbranded version (minus our watermark) of the video in return for varying amounts of money – we realised this would be an opportunity to secure a sizeable donation for a leading women’s charity.

This ‘bidding war’ brought us to a total of £1000, with no newspaper willing to go any higher for an exclusive, unbranded version.

With the price at a level within our own means, we decided to hold on to the unbranded footage. This meant we could donate to the charity anyway from our pocket, thus not depriving them of the potential windfall, and deny the mainstream media the chance to use the footage to generate revenue for themselves and drive their own particular agenda.

The footage speaks for itself and needs no media narrative. The polarised, and in our opinion, shocking debate on the comments section beneath the video on YouTube is testament to this.

We have donated the £1000 potential revenue raised from the sale of the footage to Eaves – a charity dedicated to providing frontline support and advocacy for the most vulnerable women in our society.

If you’d also like to donate to a worthwhile and hard-working group – head to http://www.eavesforwomen.org.uk/

To contact The Football Ramble on this or any other issue, please email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Richard Keys, Andy Gray, Sky Sports

Herve Renard: Making grown men cry

 
A 1-0 win over Nantes led to unprecedented scenes of humility at the Stade Auguste Bonal on Saturday, as Sochaux striker Jordan Ayew broke down in tears at the faith manager Herve Renard had shown in him. Ayew, who is currently on loan from Marseille, told reporters after the victory, Sochaux’s third in the league this season:

” It’s hard, we suffer every day, today is a big satisfaction. [We] should continue like that to hope for something. It is a relief, the coach trusts me, and I owe it to the field. I’m lucky to have a coach like that, I must thank him .”

If Renard inspires this kind of emotion in a man whose only been playing for him for three weeks, can you imagine what might happen if a well-known podcast anchor & broadcaster who’s loved him since the Africa Cup of Nations 2012 was lucky enough to run into him?

It doesn’t bear thinking about, really.

Herve Renard, Nantes, Sochaux, Jordan Ayew

#TransferDeadlineDay: Rosie Says…

rosie

Andros Townsend? He’s a lahvley little player, improve any side, he will.”

The boy Bentley? Cheeky little nahmber but a good boy to ‘av around the place, yeah.”

“Ohhhh, Crouchy. I lahve him. Good feet for a big man, Crouchy.”

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By Kelly Welles

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Image: @murphysgloves via backpagefootball.

Harry Redknapp

Transfer Deadline Day: Live from Ramble HQ

jim

Social networking has had a terrible impact on Sky’s #TransferDeadlineDay monopoly. Not to mention Jim White’s raffish good looks.

Their reporters and cameramen hang about outside grounds, ostensibly seconds away from a scoop but realistically just killing time, keeping warm and praying they won’t be overwhelmed by uncouth teenagers desperate to get on the telly, or in Nick Collins’ case, his own feet.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are kicking back in the office with a bucket of coffee, a suspicious looking sausage roll and Twitter, where all the real action is happening…

lineker

The first thing to sort out on any day that involves the movement of players is the location of Harry Redknapp.

Apparently, he’s with Gary Lineker, prompting speculation that the wily manager has persuaded the former England and Barcelona striker out of retirement to spearhead QPR’s return to the Premier League. More on that when we get it.

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kaka

Kaka spotted in Stockport! Will the restless Brazilian finally find a home in the Conference North?

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ssn

Now you see, it’s basic errors like this that cause the boredom. Send shots to the Steve Bruce presser and bingo. The story writes itself.

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snoop

While David Moyes is reportedly applying an unorthodox approach to midfield augmentation.

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By Kelly Welles

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All images via twitter.

Harry Redknapp, Kaka, Gary Lineker, Stockport County

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